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Thursday, January 10, 2013

How To Write A Great Cover Letter to Managers and Agents (This post has 51,596 views)

Wendy Alane Wright is a Hollywood Talent Manager and the president of WAW Entertainment. Her clients have appeared on television networks such as ABC, NBC, TNT, CBS, Comedy Central, BIO, Lifetime, and more. They have booked TV shows including “Modern Family,” “Blackish,” “Extant,” “The Colony,” “Animal Kingdom,” “My Haunted House,” "Walk The Prank," “Henry Danger,” "Murder Among Friends," "Night Shift," as well as hundreds of commercials for major spots including Shutterfly, Mercedes, Visa, Taco Bell, Honda, Legos, Justice, Walmart, Little Tykes, Foot Locker, Hot Wheels, Home Goods, Universal Studios, and many more. Prior to being a manager and a talent agent at Burn Down Entertainment, Wright assisted many high profile managers, agents, and publicists. For 20 years she was a recording artist, actor, and music producer, and is now the author of seven books called, “Secrets of a Hollywood Talent Manager.” Wright teaches the business of acting all over the country and is on the faculty of the New York Studio for Stage and Screen in North Carolina. For years she has appeared in numerous magazines, and on radio shows and talk shows including “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Wendy is also a Recording Artist, Actress, Author and Music Producer all  giving her a 360-degree perspective of the industry.
 
Your 1st Meeting With A Talent Manager

You have talent. You know there is something unique and special about you and you want to share it with the world. Go for it! If you believe you are ready for a Talent Manager, start contacting us. I am always looking for people just like you to encourage, motivate and help in their careers. If you live in Los Angeles go to Samuel French Bookstore on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, or online, and get the book "Personal Managers" by Keith Wolfe and start sending out your headshots, resumes and cover letters. I often receive submissions from talent in the mail or by email. I look at all submissions that come in. I look at the picture first to see who is contacting me. I read the letter next, review the resume and watch or listen to the demo last.

SENDING PICTURES TO POTENTIAL MANAGERS
If a potential client contacts me with pictures taken in the living room or kitchen I am not impressed. They should know that a picture is worth a thousand words and the movie business is all about pictures. It shows me they don't understand that. Not a good first impression. If you have professional pictures great, send them. If not send pictures that show you off well, on a plain background. Not in front of a car, or from a distance hiking a mountain. Just an up close shot that shows your amazing personality, eyes, smile with nothing featured in the background. Don't wear a hat, or sunglasses. You are what is important. Go outside stand 5 feet in front of a plain wall and have a friend take some pictures of you smiling, being serious and having fun. Don't worry, if can send those if you don't have professional shots. Everyone has to start somewhere. But be aware, most managers are going to want you to be further along in your development before they would consider taking you on. So get into a great acting class, take some audition/cold reading classes and definitely take an actor marketing class or seminar first if you can. Dallas Travers offers great online marketing classes so wherever you live you can start to understand the business.

WHAT TO SAY IN YOUR COVER LETTER
In your cover letter be professional. I have received some really stupid cover letters. "I am from Aruba. I want to be in the movies with Will Smith. If you will do it for free I want you to manage me." Seriously? I've also seen, "Here is my headshot and resume." Yes, that was it.


These are ACTUAL cover letters I have received. Here is what NOT do.

AN EXAMPLE OF A POOR COVER LETTER

'I am currently under the instruction of Jeff Alan-Lee, who has trained the likes of Shia LaBeouf and Scarlet Johannson. I have been in desperate need for agent representation for a while now and have been yearning to work. Admittedly, on top of my acting talent, I am continually increasing in skill under Mr. Alan-Lee's instruction. However my talents do not stop at acting. I have a very nice voice and am more than capable of doing voice-over, as well as print. Whatever you need me to do, I can do, my acting skill is simply my most prominent though. If your agency represents me, I WILL BOOK JOBS. Thank you for considering me and I hope to see you soon. Marcus Simpey"

I see the word "desperate" and I am immediately put off. I see the guarantee of booking jobs and I know that nobody can guarantee that. If he says he can, then he doesn't understand how this business works and how many good out of work actors there are. I don't need nonsensical promises. I need down-to-earth professionals. He is not ready for me.

ANOTHER POOR COVER LETTER AND RESUME

"I am a young actress seeking representation, and I am very serious about acting and I hope you find interest in me. My resume and headshots are attached. I am still working on my reels but if needed ASAP please let me know! Caroyln Sheed"

Objectives
Film, Television, Media internship, Business Education
Lake High School (May 21, 2011)
HS Diploma
Currently attending University of Oklahoma

Experience
Extra for “Get Loud” music video
Assemblies of God National Youth Ministries (faf.ag.org)
Performed and competed in Small Sr. Vocal Ensemble category.
Competitive Cheer (April 2008-April 2011)
Excite Gym & Cheer (excitegym.com)
Competed and won 6 National titles for Large Sr. Level 2 team.

Skills
Highly reliable, strong administrative and organizational skills
Focused writer and photographer
Ambitious, professional, committed to excellence
Sociable, personable, can communicate easily with a wide variety of personalities Dance (Hip-hop, Jazz, Modern)


There are many things that make this a lousy cover letter. First, is this girl applying for a job? She mentions her objective for an internship, her business education and lists her strong administrative and organizational skills. I am an acting manager, does she realize that? At the same time she says "I am very serious about acting." However, there is no acting on her resume! I see cheer, dance, vocals, but no acting. She is in college so she is probably about 19 or 20 years old. In all her years, has she ever been in a play and actually acted? There are no plays in elementary school, high school, college or community theater. How serious about acting is this person, really? Where are the acting classes where she has learned to act? No, I won't even take the time to respond to this person. She may be very talented, but she has no idea who she is, what she wants or how to present to the industry. In this day and age of Google anyone can look up samples of acting resumes and create one.

The ONLY way either Carolyn or Marcus can overcome their lousy cover letters or resumes is if their Demo blows me out of the water. Their acting or singing has to be so good I am willing to drop everything and get them into my office before someone else snatches them up. 9 out of 10 times that won't be the case. But if it is, I will invest my time and teach them how to write a cover letter and create a resume because their talent is so strong it can sell itself. Don't bother sending in a demo that isn't your absolute best performance. Mediocre work on a demo just means you still need more training and local experience. Go get it.

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HERE IS AN EXAMPLE OF A GOOD COVER LETTER. Here is what you should do!

Hello,

My name is Mali Serez. I am looking for representation. Currently, I have a recurring role a series of Verizon Wireless commercials. I have also been cast as a lead in a new TV series "High Street Hills" and recently received a call back for the Steven King/John Mellencamp musical "Ghost Brothers Of Darkland County." I am training with Doug Warhit for cold reading and Judy Kain for commercials.

I have attached a headshot, resume, Actors Access and La Casting Links for your review. If you feel I would be a good fit for you and your company, I would like to schedule a meeting.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
Best,
Mali Serez


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What makes this cover letter work is that it is professional. No personal comments or pleading. It give me easy access to his video, pictures and resume. He also states briefly what he has been doing and is currently working on, showing me is is making things happen for himself. He has made a good first impression. But it all comes down to talent. Does he have any? If Mali doesn't attached a demo reel how do I know?

With today's high tech gadgets, artists can create great looking and sounding demos to present to managers. Why contact a manager without media? They need to see your eyes, the way you move and sound. If you are using your iPhone to create a demo make sure it is well lit. You don't want your media working against you. Keep it short and sweet and show only your best. Most artists know they need a website that showcases their talent, has pictures, demos and resumes to make it easy for reps and talent buyers to see all of their materials in one place. Amateurs typically do not have a website. A good manager will likely improve your website, but you have to start somewhere.

WHAT TO DO IN YOUR 1st MEETING
So let's say you get past the first contact and I like your headshot, resume or demo reel and you get a meeting! You should be prepared to talk about what YOU have been doing to create your career so far. If you are over 8 years old, I expect to hear that you have been doing theater in your community, at your school or college. That you have been taking acting classes and learning how to act. When you come in for your first meeting you should have energy. I want to see your personality. You should also be relaxed enough to be yourself. In our conversation, I want to hear what your goals are, where you would like to be in 5 years? What kind of roles you want to play if you are an actor. And if you are a singer you should be ready to sing live for me, and or have a tape or video of you singing that I can listen to.

People who say they want to be an actor but are not acting anywhere I do not take seriously. People who say they want to be a singer but are not out there singing anywhere I do not take seriously. A person who really wants a career as a singer or an actor will be sharing their talents whereever they can and not waiting for a manager or agent to create opportunities for them.

I get excited by everyone's dreams, but I take on clients who are already doing something on their own to make them happen. It's that kind of initiative that creates the energy to make things happen in this world. Even after an artist is a client of mine, they should be pounding the pavement to get their own auditions, find locations to sing, working with music producers, work with student filmmakers anything to gain experience, skill and express their craft. Yes, I will guide them in how to do that professionally and with focus, but the energy to propel forward needs to come from You!

Getting representation is a two-way street. You are interviewing potential managers as much as they are interviewing you. Who do they represent? Do they understand your type and how to best market it? Are they excited about your talent? Can they tell you what is unique about you, because that is what they are going to be selling? Do you feel comfortable with them? Make sure a they do not represent anyone like you. You want your manager to be pushing you for the roles you are right for, not other people. Ask if they have had success with their other clients, and if so, what? Are their clients getting out on auditions? Is the potential manager professional and do they present themselves well? Remember they are representing you. Your manager is one of the most important members on your team. They are a reflection of you and the choices you make about your career. They need to be able to communicate well with agents, producers and casting directors. Don't be afraid to walk away from any person or situation you don't feel right about. Go with your gut! Make sure you are clear about what they expect from you and what you expect from them.

So if everything goes well in your initial interview they will ask to represent you. Congratulations you now have a manager! You will be asked to sign a 2-3 year contract. There should always an out clause that states "In the event that you do not obtain a bonafide offer of employment from a responsible employer during a period of time in excess of six (6) consecutive months, during all of which said time I shall be ready, able, willing and available to accept employment, either party hereto shall have the right to terminate this contract by notice in writing sent to the other via registered or certified mail." This is a business relationship that can be severed if either party does not fulfill their end of the agreement. Have them explain the contract to you and answer any questions you may have. You also have the right to take the contract with you to review it and have someone else review it too. Remember managers work on commission only. They make 15-20% commission only from the work you do. You are never to pay upfront fees for representation.

Now that you have a manager be willing to work hard, be on time, be professional, take direction and get them all the top level media and marketing materials they need. A good manager will be doing everything they can to get you ahead. Enjoy that support. You are going to need it!

To help your manager you should be informed about how the business works. So you need to read this 110-page e-Book filled with insider information to help you become a working actor.

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Wendy Alane Wright Smith
Talent Manager
WAW ENTERTAINMENT
wawentertainment@yahoo.com